Beyond Pop: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective is the Denver Art Museum's summer blockbuster. Though Wesselmann was part of the initial group of artists who launched pop art in the '60s, his accomplishments are not as well remembered as are those of his fellow-traveling contemporaries. Maybe it's because his chosen topics -- naked women in pin-up poses and smokers -- are more outré now than they were when he made them. See also:Goldfish and a life-sized nude highlight Articulated Perspectives at the Habu Gallery
The DAM exhibit begins with his 1950s collages, but by 1961 Wesselman had arrived at his first mature phase: his "Great American Nude" series. The influence of Matisse is clear, and though Wesselmann referenced other artists over the years, Matisse was clearly his principle source all along. This was the beginning of an extremely fertile period for the artist,.but he seemed to run out of steam by 1980. Then in the late '80s he got a second wind with the cut-metal bas-relief sculptures that he continued until his death in 2004.
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Wesselmann's work has been rarely exhibit in the last twenty years, making this over-the-top show a rare treat. The show, which opened on July 13, runs through September 14 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. For more information, call 720-865-5000 or go to denverartmuseum.org.